Weather station

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Weather station at Mildura Airport, Victoria, Australia. Mildura Airport Weatherstation.jpg
Weather station at Mildura Airport, Victoria, Australia.

A weather station is a facility, either on land or sea, with instruments and equipment for measuring atmospheric conditions to provide information for weather forecasts and to study the weather and climate. The measurements taken include temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, and precipitation amounts. Wind measurements are taken with as few other obstructions as possible, while temperature and humidity measurements are kept free from direct solar radiation, or insolation. Manual observations are taken at least once daily, while automated measurements are taken at least once an hour. Weather conditions out at sea are taken by ships and buoys, which measure slightly different meteorological quantities such as sea surface temperature (SST), wave height, and wave period. Drifting weather buoys outnumber their moored versions by a significant amount.

Contents

Weather instruments

The NOAA weather station at Wake Island harbor measures and transmits data on wind speed, atmospheric pressure, air temperature and tides. NOAA weather station at Wake Island harbor.jpg
The NOAA weather station at Wake Island harbor measures and transmits data on wind speed, atmospheric pressure, air temperature and tides.

Typical weather stations have the following instruments:

In addition, at certain automated airport weather stations, additional instruments may be employed, including:

More sophisticated stations may also measure the ultraviolet index, leaf wetness, soil moisture, soil temperature, water temperature in ponds, lakes, creeks, or rivers, and occasionally other data.

Exposure

Except for those instruments requiring direct exposure to the elements (anemometer, rain gauge), the instruments should be sheltered in a vented box, usually a Stevenson screen, to keep direct sunlight off the thermometer and wind off the hygrometer. The instrumentation may be specialized to allow for periodic recording otherwise significant manual labour is required for record keeping. Automatic transmission of data, in a format such as METAR, is also desirable as many weather station's data is required for weather forecasting.

Personal weather station

Roof-mounted weather station instruments Davis VantagePro.jpg
Roof-mounted weather station instruments

A personal weather station is a set of weather measuring instruments operated by a private individual, club, association, or business (where obtaining and distributing weather data is not a part of the entity's business operation). Personal weather stations have become more advanced and can include many different sensors to measure weather conditions. These sensors can vary between models but most measure wind speed, wind direction, outdoor and indoor temperatures, outdoor and indoor humidity, barometric pressure, rainfall, and UV or solar radiation. Other available sensors can measure soil moisture, soil temperature, and leaf wetness. The quality, number of instruments, and placement of personal weather stations can vary widely, making the determination of which stations collect accurate, meaningful, and comparable data difficult. There are a comprehensive number of retail weather stations available.

Personal weather stations typically involve a digital console that provides readouts of the data being collected. These consoles may interface to a personal computer where data can be displayed, stored, and uploaded to websites or data ingestion/distribution systems. Open-source weather stations are available that are designed to be fully customizable by users. [1]

Personal weather stations may be operated solely for the enjoyment and education of the owner, while some owners share their results with others. They do this by manually compiling data and distributing it, distributing data over the Internet, or sharing data via amateur radio. The Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) is a service which facilitates the sharing of information from personal weather stations. This data is submitted through use of software, a personal computer, and internet connection (or amateur radio) and are utilized by groups such as the National Weather Service (NWS) when generating forecast models. Each weather station submitting data to CWOP will also have an individual Web page that depicts the data submitted by that station. The Weather Underground Internet site is another popular destination for the submittal and sharing of data with others around the world. As with CWOP, each station submitting data to Weather Underground has a unique Web page displaying their submitted data. The UK Met Office's Weather Observations Website (WOW) also allows such data to be shared and displayed. [2]

Home weather station

Home weather stations include hygrometers, thermometers, barographs, and barometers. Commonly wall mounted and made by manufacturers such as Airguide, Taylor, Springfield, Sputnik and Stormoguide.

The weather ship MS Polarfront at sea. Polarfront.jpg
The weather ship MS Polarfront at sea.

Dedicated ships

A weather ship was a ship stationed in the ocean as a platform for surface and upper air meteorological measurements for use in weather forecasting. It was also meant to aid in search and rescue operations and to support transatlantic flights. [3] [4] The establishment of weather ships proved to be so useful during World War II that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) established a global network of 13 weather ships in 1948. [3] Of the 12 left in operation in 1996, nine were located in the northern Atlantic Ocean while three were located in the northern Pacific Ocean. The agreement of the weather ships ended in 1990. Weather ship observations proved to be helpful in wind and wave studies, as they did not avoid weather systems like merchant ships tended to and were considered a valuable resource. [5] The last weather ship was MS Polarfront, known as weather station M ("jilindras") at 66°N, 02°E, run by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. MS Polarfront was removed from service January 1, 2010. Since the 1960s this role has been largely superseded by satellites, long range aircraft and weather buoys. Weather observations from ships continue from thousands of voluntary merchant vessels in routine commercial operation; the Old Weather crowdsourcing project transcribes naval logs from before the era of dedicated ships.

Weather buoy operated by the NOAA National Data Buoy Center NOAA-NDBC-discus-buoy.jpg
Weather buoy operated by the NOAA National Data Buoy Center

Dedicated buoys

Weather buoys are instruments which collect weather and oceanography data within the world's oceans and lakes. [6] [7] [8] Moored buoys have been in use since 1951, [9] while drifting buoys have been used since the late 1970s. [10] Moored buoys are connected with the seabed using either chains, nylon, or buoyant polypropylene. [11] With the decline of the weather ship, they have taken a more primary role in measuring conditions over the open seas since the 1970s. [12] During the 1980s and 1990s, a network of buoys in the central and eastern tropical Pacific ocean helped study the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. [13] Moored weather buoys range from 1.5–12 metres (5–40 ft) in diameter, [11] while drifting buoys are smaller, with diameters of 30–40 centimetres (12–16 in). [14] Drifting buoys are the dominant form of weather buoy in sheer number, with 1250 located worldwide. [10] Wind data from buoys has smaller error than that from ships. [15] There are differences in the values of sea surface temperature measurements between the two platforms as well, relating to the depth of the measurement and whether or not the water is heated by the ship which measures the quantity. [16]

Synoptic weather station

A Synoptic automatic weather station PULSONIC - PULSIA - Station Synoptique.png
A Synoptic automatic weather station

Synoptic weather stations are instruments which collect meteorological information at synoptic time 00h00, 06h00, 12h00, 18h00 (UTC) and at intermediate synoptic hours 03h00, 09h00, 15h00, 21h00 (UTC).

The common instruments of measure are anemometer, wind vane, pressure sensor, thermometer, hygrometer, and rain gauge.

The weather measures are formatted in special format and transmit to WMO to help the weather forecast model.

Networks

A variety of land-based weather station networks have been set up globally. Some of these are basic to analyzing weather fronts and pressure systems, such as the synoptic observation network, while others are more regional in nature, known as mesonets.

Global

United States

Southern Hemisphere

See also

Related Research Articles

Meteorology Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics and more particularly, the development of the computer, allowing for the automated solution of a great many equations that model the weather, in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important domain of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

Hygrometer instrument used for measuring the moisture content in the atmosphere

A hygrometer is an instrument used to measure the amount of humidity and water vapour in the atmosphere, in soil, or in confined spaces. Humidity measurement instruments usually rely on measurements of some other quantity such as temperature, pressure, mass, a mechanical or electrical change in a substance as moisture is absorbed. By calibration and calculation, these measured quantities can lead to a measurement of humidity. Modern electronic devices use temperature of condensation, or changes in electrical capacitance or resistance to measure humidity differences. The first crude hygrometer was invented by the Italian Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci in 1480 and a more modern version was created by Swiss polymath Johann Heinrich Lambert in 1755. Later, in the year 1783, Swiss physicist and Geologist Horace Bénédict de Saussure invented the first hygrometer using human hair to measure humidity.

Sea surface temperature Water temperature close to the oceans surface

Sea surface temperature (SST) is the water temperature close to the ocean's surface. The exact meaning of surface varies according to the measurement method used, but it is between 1 millimetre (0.04 in) and 20 metres (70 ft) below the sea surface. Air masses in the Earth's atmosphere are highly modified by sea surface temperatures within a short distance of the shore. Localized areas of heavy snow can form in bands downwind of warm water bodies within an otherwise cold air mass. Warm sea surface temperatures are known to be a cause of tropical cyclogenesis over the Earth's oceans. Tropical cyclones can also cause a cool wake, due to turbulent mixing of the upper 30 metres (100 ft) of the ocean. SST changes diurnally, like the air above it, but to a lesser degree. There is less SST variation on breezy days than on calm days. In addition, ocean currents such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), can effect SST's on multi-decadal time scales, a major impact results from the global thermohaline circulation, which affects average SST significantly throughout most of the world's oceans.

Automatic weather station set of sensors that record and provide physical measurements and meteorological parameters without any human intervention

An automatic weather station (AWS) is an automated version of the traditional weather station, either to save human labour or to enable measurements from remote areas. An AWS will typically consist of a weather-proof enclosure containing the data logger, rechargeable battery, telemetry (optional) and the meteorological sensors with an attached solar panel or wind turbine and mounted upon a mast. The specific configuration may vary due to the purpose of the system. The system may report in near real time via the Argos System and the Global Telecommunications System, or save the data for later recovery.

Weather buoy Floating instrument package which collects weather and ocean data on the worlds oceans

Weather buoys are instruments which collect weather and ocean data within the world's oceans, as well as aid during emergency response to chemical spills, legal proceedings, and engineering design. Moored buoys have been in use since 1951, while drifting buoys have been used since 1979. Moored buoys are connected with the ocean bottom using either chains, nylon, or buoyant polypropylene. With the decline of the weather ship, they have taken a more primary role in measuring conditions over the open seas since the 1970s. During the 1980s and 1990s, a network of buoys in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean helped study the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Moored weather buoys range from 1.5–12 metres (5–40 ft) in diameter, while drifting buoys are smaller, with diameters of 30–40 centimetres (12–16 in). Drifting buoys are the dominant form of weather buoy in sheer number, with 1250 located worldwide. Wind data from buoys has smaller error than that from ships. There are differences in the values of sea surface temperature measurements between the two platforms as well, relating to the depth of the measurement and whether or not the water is heated by the ship which measures the quantity.

Citizen Weather Observer Program

The Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP) is a network of privately owned electronic weather stations concentrated in the United States but also located in over 150 countries. Network participation allows volunteers with computerized weather stations to send automated surface weather observations to the National Weather Service (NWS) by way of the Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS). This data is then used by the Rapid Refresh (RAP) forecast model to produce short term forecasts of conditions across the contiguous United States. Observations are also redistributed to the public.

Mesonet

In meteorology, a mesonet, portmanteau of mesoscale network, is a network of (typically) automated weather and environmental monitoring stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena. Dry lines, squall lines, and sea breezes are examples of phenomena that can be observed by mesonets. Due to the space and time scales associated with mesoscale phenomena, weather stations comprising a mesonet will be spaced closer together and report more frequently than synoptic scale observing networks, such as ASOS. The term mesonet refers to the collective group of these weather stations, and are typically owned and operated by a common entity. Mesonets usually record in situ surface weather observations but some involve other observation platforms, particularly vertical profiles of the planetary boundary layer (PBL).

Meteorological instrumentation measuring device used in meteorology

Meteorological instruments are the equipment used to sample the state of the atmosphere at a given time. Each science has its own unique sets of laboratory equipment. Meteorology, however, is a science which does not use much lab equipment but relies more on on-site observation and remote sensing equipment. In science, an observation, or observable, is an abstract idea that can be measured and for which data can be taken. Rain was one of the first quantities to be measured historically. Two other accurately measured weather-related variables are wind and humidity. Many attempts had been made prior to the 15th century to construct adequate equipment to measure atmospheric variables.

The Coastal-Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) is a meteorological observation network along the coastal United States. Consisting of about sixty stations installed on lighthouses, at capes and beaches, on near shore islands, and on offshore platforms, the stations record atmospheric pressure, wind direction, speed and gust, and air temperature; however, some C-MAN stations are designed to also measure sea surface temperature, water level, waves, relative humidity, precipitation, and visibility.

Polar meteorology is the study of the atmosphere of Earth's polar regions. Surface temperature inversion is typical of polar environments and leads to the katabatic wind phenomenon. The vertical temperature structure of polar environments tends to be more complex than in mid-latitude or tropical climates.

Automated airport weather station Automated sensor suites

Airport weather stations are automated sensor suites which are designed to serve aviation and meteorological operations, weather forecasting and climatology. Automated airport weather stations have become part of the backbone of weather observing in the United States and Canada and are becoming increasingly more prevalent worldwide due to their efficiency and cost-savings.

Surface weather observation Data used for safety as well as climatological reasons to forecast weather

Surface weather observations are the fundamental data used for safety as well as climatological reasons to forecast weather and issue warnings worldwide. They can be taken manually, by a weather observer, by computer through the use of automated weather stations, or in a hybrid scheme using weather observers to augment the otherwise automated weather station. The ICAO defines the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), which is the model of the standard variation of pressure, temperature, density, and viscosity with altitude in the Earth's atmosphere, and is used to reduce a station pressure to sea level pressure. Airport observations can be transmitted worldwide through the use of the METAR observing code. Personal weather stations taking automated observations can transmit their data to the United States mesonet through the Citizen Weather Observer Program (CWOP), the UK Met Office through their Weather Observations Website (WOW), or internationally through the Weather Underground Internet site. A thirty-year average of a location's weather observations is traditionally used to determine the station's climate. In the US a network of Cooperative Observers make a daily record of summary weather and sometimes water level information.

Chesapeake Light lighthouse in Virginia, United States

Chesapeake Light is an offshore lighthouse marking the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. The structure was first marked with a lightship in the 1930s, and was later replaced by a "Texas Tower" in 1965. The lighthouse was eventually automated and was used for supporting atmospheric measurement sites for NASA and NOAA. Due to deteriorating structural conditions, the lighthouse was deactivated in 2016. At the time it was the last remaining "Texas Tower" still in use due to obsolescence.

The following are considered essential ocean climate variables by the Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC) that are currently feasible with current observational systems.

The Oklahoma Mesonet is a network of environmental monitoring stations designed to measure the environment at the size and duration of mesoscale weather events. The phrase "mesonet" is a portmanteau of the words mesoscale and network. In meteorology, “mesoscale” refers to weather events that range in size from approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) to 150 miles (240 km) and can last from several minutes to several hours. Mesoscale events include thunderstorms, wind gusts, heat bursts, and dry lines. Without densely spaced weather observations, these mesoscale events might go undetected. In addition to surface weather observations, Oklahoma Mesonet stations also include environmental data such as on insolation and soil conditions, and some sites are co-located with wind profilers.

The Research Moored Array for African-Asian-Australian Monsoon Analysis and Prediction, also known as RAMA, is a system of moored observation buoys in the Indian Ocean that collects meteorological and oceanographic data. The data collected by RAMA will greatly enhance the ability of scientists to understand climatic events and predict monsoon events. Climatic and oceanic events in the Indian Ocean affect weather and climate throughout the rest of the world, so RAMA will support weather forecasting and climate research worldwide. Although widely supported internationally, the system has only been partially implemented due to pirate activity off the coast of Somalia.

Marine weather forecasting

Marine weather forecasting is the process by which mariners and meteorological organizations attempt to forecast future weather conditions over the Earth's oceans. Mariners have had rules of thumb regarding the navigation around tropical cyclones for many years, dividing a storm into halves and sailing through the normally weaker and more navigable half of their circulation. Marine weather forecasts by various weather organizations can be traced back to the sinking of the Royal Charter in 1859 and the RMS Titanic in 1912.

Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic A system of moored observation buoys in the tropical Atlantic Ocean which collect meteorological and oceanographic data

The Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic, also known as PIRATA, is a system of moored observation buoys in the tropical Atlantic Ocean which collect meteorological and oceanographic data. The data collected by the PIRATA array helps scientists to better understand climatic events in the Tropical Atlantic and to improve weather forecasting and climate research worldwide. Climatic and oceanic events in the tropical Atlantic, such as the Tropical Atlantic SST Dipole affect rainfall and climate in both West Africa and Northeast Brazil. The northern tropical Atlantic is also a major formation area for hurricanes affecting the West Indies and the United States. Alongside the RAMA array in the Indian Ocean and the TAO/TRITON network in the Pacific Ocean, PIRATA forms part of the worldwide system of tropical ocean observing buoys.

Cooperative Observer Program

The NOAA Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is a citizen weather observer network run by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) and National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Over 8,700 volunteers from the fifty states and all territories report at least daily a variety of weather conditions such as daily maximum and minimum temperatures, 24-hour precipitation totals, including snowfall, and significant weather occurrences throughout a day that are recorded via remarks in observer logs. Some stations also report stream stage or tidal levels.

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